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Last Thursday Bann entertained Championship side Grosvenor FP in a pre-season friendly and among the interested spectators were three of the club’s close-season signings, all part of the Ulster Academy squad recently announced.

Prop Eric O’Sullivan (fourth from left) joins the club after a number of seasons playing for Trinity in Division 1A of the All-Ireland League. The 21-year-old prop was selected in the Ireland Club International Squad which played the English Counties before last season’s Six Nations international between the two nations.

Back-row Greg Jones (fifth from left), also 21, has also been playing in Division 1A, with university side UCD. Like O’Sullivan he chose to make Banbridge his home club on transferring from the Leinster Academy because he had been impressed with the style of rugby the Rifle Park side play under coach Daniel Soper.

The third newcomer present last Thursday, Michael Lowry (sixth from left), has already enjoyed three seasons’s coaching under Soper at RBAI. The out-half, who turns 19 later this month, played in three successful Inst Schools’ Cup-winning sides and is seen as one of the brightest prospects in Ulster rugby.

There to welcome the trio at the Clubhouse were Director of Rugby Andy Duke, Ireland captain Rory Best, with son Ben, Club President Robert Ervine and Club Coach Dan Soper.

One of Bann’s other new signings, centre James Hume, who played alongside Lowry at Inst, has unfortunately had to undergo surgery which will rule him out for part of the season.

Three other signings, forwards Nic Timoney (ex-Queen’s) and Caleb Montgomery (ex-Narbonne) and winger Rob Lyttle were away with the Ulster squad last week enjoying pre-season training in Portugal, while new prop Tom O’Toole, last season’s Campbell College captain, was unavailable last Thursday.

None of these new players will be available to make their debut for Bann until mid-September because of their Ulster commitments.


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